Both the California and the Andean condor hover on the very edge of extinction. Captive breeding has helped reintroduce the California condor into the wild along the coastal mountains of south-central California and within Arizona's Grand Canyon region. Reintroduction of the Andean condor into its native habitat of western South America has also helped sustain the birds in the wild.
California Condor Conservation
The California condor's natural habitat once spanned the entire western United States, parts of Florida and New York. In 1987, only 22 of the birds existed in the wild. The remaining birds were captured for their own protection and taken into captivity. From 1988 to 1991, no California condors existed in the wild. In 2007, only 279 California condors existed around the world; through reintroduction efforts that year, 130 of the condors were again residing in their natural habitat, according to the Defenders of Wildlife.
The condor uses its keen eyesight to search for carrion. The bird feeds primarily on the carcasses of large mammals. The condor nests, forages and roosts in remote areas. They prefer to soar over open grasslands because such a region attracts ample grazing animal herds. The California condor also inhabits oak-studded foothills. The Andean condor will hunt in alpine regions, desert lowlands, coastal areas and grasslands. During the night, the condor roosts on rocky outcroppings, snags or trees. The birds usually choose a roosting area that has only minimal disturbances. The condor appears to prefer solitude from human interlopers. The bird enjoys the companionship of its own kind and roosts beside its companions at night.
Both male and female condor share the responsibility of sitting on the egg and caring for the baby condor. The pair picks a nesting location high up in a rocky crevice or a cave. Within its protection, the female will lay only one egg. In approximately 56 days the egg will hatch. The young condor resides in the nest until it reaches six months old and learns to fly. Even after learning to fly, the young bird will remain with its parents for two years. The condor can live up to 80 years under ideal circumstances.
The California condor boasts a wing span of approximately 9 feet, and the Andean condor has a 10-foot wingspan. The birds soar at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and travel up to 150 miles in search of large animal carrion. Despite reintroduction efforts, the condor still faces serious threats from human encroachment on its natural habitat. Both the California and Andean condors suffer poaching at the hands of humans. They also face death by accidentally ingesting trash that litters the bird's habitat. Condors often run into electrical wires that crisscross their home range. The overuse of pesticides also poses a risk to the birds and their reproductive abilities. Toxic spills of crude oil and antifreeze into the bird's habitat also threaten the condor.